By Tiffany Glielmi
Owning a gym and being surrounded by fit and unfit people brings up the common misunderstood problems surrounding the subject of pain in the body. Especially when someone starts exercising. Some of the most common things I see is back pain and joint pain. At our facility, I have some people look at me like I have three heads when I say, “If you have pain for whatever reason I might be able to help you.” Some may think only a doctor can fix pain or only a chiropractor or physical therapist can fix pain. And while those are all very true, there is everyday pain that people are faced with that surround my business that I really want to educate my members and my community on.
You are going to be shocked when I say this but it is the most truth that I have spoken about pain in the last 10 years since I have been working in this field. PAIN IS YOUR FRIEND!!!? What I mean by that is pain is just a symptom of something. Pain is your body asking you to pay attention. Getting to know your body and getting to know “your” pain is so important to taking real control of your health.
I will always remember the client who started training with me at 45 years old and never worked out before a day in her life. She looked over at me and said she thought something was wrong because her legs were burning. In my head I chuckled and I wanted to say out loud- NO FEEL THE BURN BABY! But I realized very quickly that I had to educate people on pain, as well as the difference between discomfort and pain. And the more I learned about pain the more I realized I could help people who were living with pain.
So, what is this pain that I am speaking of!? The pain that I discuss with my clients are the following:
1-The sore pain you get after a workout
2- The pain you feel that is fatigue or the burning sensation you get during a workout
Lastly 4-tightness or muscle pain.
These are all different and if you work out consistently it is crucial for you to know what they are, why you have them, and what you can do about it!
First the sore pain! Yes, let’s discuss this. Every client who walks through my door after their first week of their new program grab their legs and says, “oh it hurts so good” I am so sore! This is GOOD pain. This kind of pain can be a way of showing you where you are or where you need to go! BUT don’t get fooled by this pain. It is not something that you want to stick around. After you have been training for a while you don’t have to get “sore” to make gains in your training! There is this belief that for a workout to be considered beneficial, it has to make your sore, like a damn badge of honor or something. If you continuously try to “chase the pain” in your training program that’s a good recipe for getting hurt and not being able to train. Pay attention to this because being extremely sore so bad to the point that you get bruises or feel sick can mean more is going on in your body than just general soreness. There is a time to enjoy that kind of pain and a time to consult your physician. When you experience flu like symptoms or any kind of bruising that doesn’t seem normal with being extremely sore you need to consult with your physician!
Second, the pain you feel that is fatigue or burning- This kind of feeling can seem like pain or weakness in the body. Your body just pushed 200 pounds of iron across the turf on a sled (AWESOME) so you will feel muscular fatigue. Your body will be wore out and you can even feel a little shaky or nauseous if you really challenge the energy system or intensity of a movement. This kind of fatigue can occasionally be good to reach (of course I always recommend you do this under the supervision of a certified personal trainer and/or fitness professional) especially when you have been training consistently! But again, beware of going “too hard”. If your fatigue turns in to throwing up or extreme dizziness than you went a little too hard.
Third, Hurt Pain! Isn’t all pain “hurt” pain? Well you could argue that but I see it differently, as it is in the eye of the beholder. I guess I compare this to childbirth! SURE, I was in pain but I did not hurt. It wasn’t an injury and often when we see or feel pain in our body we think it’s an injury. There is quite a bit of “hurt” pain that I am talking about here. There is aching. This kind of hurt pain could mean there is a lingering injury that is rearing its ugly head! However, it could also mean there is extreme inflammation in the body. There is a sharp pain that you can feel when you pull something or break something. I guess I would compare this to sharp pain and then an immediate numbing throbbing type of pain. This type is a “problem” pain and needs immediate attention! More often this type of pain is rare and usually only happens in a situation where a person actually breaks a bone, or damages tendons and/or ligaments. You need to be aware of this pain BUT I do think that sometimes we can confuse other pain with “hurt” pain and there is a difference!
The last one is my kind of pain! What I mean by this is I love when I client comes to me with this kind of pain because I can almost always help them! So, what is it? Tightness or muscle pain! Which I am actually experiencing in my mid back as we speak. This kind of pain is a tightness or a sharp tightness kind of pain! And in my experience of training clients I have realized that almost everyone jumps over into the “hurt” pain when they experience this. They go to their doctor and get recommended for surgery or for some serious medications WHEN little did they know that they could actually MOVE BETTER AND IN THE RIGHT WAY to help with this kind of pain. Massage and chiropractor can help this kind of pain, too! So, what is typically going on in the body when there is discomfort or tightness like what I am experiencing now (mine is directly in the middle of my back and kind of takes my breath away) is IMBALANCE! What I mean by this is we use our bodies! Every day in all different sorts of ways. And because we are sitting more and more and losing muscle and strength over time we end up creating a system that isn’t functioning optimally! You can also experience this kind of imbalance if you sit or lay in a long position for too long (examples- nursing an infant, flying in an airplane, sitting at your job, etc.) What is going on is you have muscles that are overactive or working too much and you have muscles that are underactive or not working very often. This can lead to tightness, pain, and sometimes an injury which can be that “hurt” kind of pain. So, what we do in our training is to try to wake up the underactive muscles and relax the over active muscles just by moving properly. WOW you won’t believe the difference you can feel just from taking your body and putting it through activation style movements! This is kind of in a nutshell what a physical therapist would do! However, RTG does this on a different scale. We program this into your daily exercise routine. And when pain shows up we help you move and “feel” movement in the right parts of your body to help with muscle tightness and muscle pain! I will venture and say that 97% of the pain I see in my facility is this kind of pain! More times than not this kind of pain is also linked to a very inactive core. Once we activate the core the body gets “help” with movements from the core and this can help with tightness or pain.
Doing corrective exercises is especially important for special populations such as postpartum clients, clients with injuries, elderly clients, and clients with pain.
So, the next time you “feel” pain start thinking about all the different kinds of pains you feel in your body. What is it and is it an injury or just discomfort! It is unfortunate that many people have tried surgery to rid their bodies of pain before trying to move and move often and in the right way!
At our facility we offer screenings. In that screening we evaluate your injury history, your pain history, and we take a look at your movements. If a client is presented with pain and we can’t help them we refer them out to various places (chiropractor, massage, and the hospital), but if we can help the client with pain it likely starts getting better for that client after 1 session. How great!
Check out a training gym near you to see if this type of movement can help you! We have helped so many!